Opinion: A Photographer Goes Missing in China

Lu Guang’s images have shown the world China’s dark side.

The New York Times
Date: Dec. 8, 2018
By: Robert Y. Pledge

Wastewater flowing into the sea from a chemical factory in the Touzeng Coastal Chemical Industrial Park near Binhai City, Jiangsu Province in 2008.

For five weeks, the world has had no idea where Lu Guang is.

Lu Guang is an internationally acclaimed photographer from China, and he has been my friend for more than 15 years. I’m proud that the agency I co-founded represents and distributes his work. We first met in Beijing in 2002. He was already a well-known and widely awarded documentary photographer in his country, and he would soon win a slew of international awards, including some of the world’s most prestigious.

Rivers and ponds in Guiyu Town in Guangdong Province were severely polluted in 2005.

Yang Xinrun, 15, photographed in 2005, came to work in the Heilonggui Industrial District with his parents after he finished second grade. He earned about 16 yuan a day.

Five weeks ago, he was invited to travel to Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, in Western China. He went there to share his passion for photography by leading an informal, weeklong workshop with local photographers. The Chinese government has been conducting what it describes as a large-scale antiterrorism campaign in Xinjiang, targeting the Uighur ethnic group.

According to local sources, the security services detained Lu Guang, along with his local host, on or about Nov. 3. He was supposed to travel a day or two later to Sichuan Province, where he regularly does charity work. He never made it.

Lu Guang lives with his wife, Xu Xiaoli, and their son, Michael, in New York, where they are

A sheepherder along the bank of the Yellow River. Shizuishan City, Ningxia, in 2006.

permanent United States residents. Xu Xiaoli has attempted multiple times to learn about her husband’s status and his health from the Chinese authorities, calling officials both in Xianjing and in Lu Guang’s hometown province, Zhejiang. The Chinese authorities have not responded to her.

Lu Guang is a deeply concerned citizen. He works almost solely in China, for both linguistic and cultural reasons. His photographs have depicted some of the harsher sides of life in China — AIDS, environmental destruction, pollution and poverty.

Lu Guang photographed pollution in Hainan, the industrial district of Wuhai City, in Inner Mongolia, in 2005.    [FULL  STORY]